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Fanfic: Catching the Clock 9.21, Part One


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AN:  The debate over kicking out Blauman doesn’t really have any bearing on Barney/Robin events or the wedding as a whole.  Therefore I’m not going to cover it and will focus instead on the Blauman flashbacks, one of which I thought going in would be a simple (though vitally important) flashback but it took on a life of its own in this chapter and grew into a 6,000+ word scene.  FYI, just for some placement, that scene is meant to be set roughly in between “Murtaugh” and “Mosbius Designs”.  

And I apologize again for the angst in this chapter.  The story is at that point where I can’t write Barney/Robin fluff just yet, but I promise you it is coming; all the future chapters are almost nothing but happiness and awesomeness for years and years and years – because that’s the way it would have been in a canon world.


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Gary Blauman

Over at the church, while Robin is having her hair done Barney has that bonding talk with her mom they both wanted them to have.  Genevieve tells him a little bit about herself but he discerns the basic gist of her personality simply from the story of her flight here and the way she tells it.  She’s an excitable, overemotional woman with a tendency to be self-absorbed – she’s barely let him get a word in edgewise and doesn’t seem to have even noticed.  She’s also prone to letting her fears rule her life.  She almost didn’t come to her daughter’s wedding, heedless of the effect that would have, because of said fears – and then nearly killed a plane full of people when she did decide to come. 

Between her mom and her dad, Robin had very little hope at a normal, healthy childhood.  No kid could survive all that without emerging with some issues.  It’s pretty clear to him now that Robin’s guarded nature wasn’t only from needing to hide her feelings from her father, which is what he’d always assumed, but it was also a result of her mother being the exact opposite and observing the outcome and consequences that had on her life.  Moreover, teenage Robin no doubt endured plenty of male bashing, anti-love/anti-relationship propaganda at her mother’s hand too that helped shaped her avoidance of commitment.  Inappropriate though it may be, Genevieve has already brought up Mr. Scherbatsky, his faults, and their failed marriage no less than three times in their brief conversation.  It’s kind of bumming Barney out – and they only just met.  Robin was subjected to it on a daily basis. 

Getting to know her mother has given Barney a whole new respect for his fiancée, and though Genevieve seems like a nice enough woman he’s glad when Marshall comes to find him announcing that it’s time for him to start getting ready.

A couple hours pass after that as everyone begins preparing themselves for the wedding.  While Robin continues to get ready, friends and family go in and out:  her mom, and Lily, and Patrice in small doses, and Katie keeps popping in to spend some time with her sister before taking her place in the audience.

Robin had naturally asked her sister to be in the wedding and when she declined she’d next asked Barney’s sister but she also declined.  Neither Robin nor Barney cared about having a big wedding party but it would have been nice to have one of the two girls just to even out the numbers; as it is Barney has an extra groomsman.  Nevertheless, both Katie and Carly didn’t want to be a bridesmaid as they both felt it was “too clichéd”.  Robin cut them some slack when she remembered that at twenty-two she would have probably reacted the same way.  A decade really changes a person.  Case in point, exactly ten years later the second biggest champion of singledom is standing in a church on her wedding day – about to marry the biggest champion – and it’s time for her to put on the dress. 

Now that it’s gotten later she’s mostly alone in her bridal room.  Her mother is ill-equipped for this type of thing and has taken to mingling outside, which is alright by Robin since her earlier advice only left her in a tailspin.  Katie is still in her ‘love is too lame for me’ phase so while she’s happy for her sister she mostly has an above-it-all attitude when she pops in.  Level-headed Lily, whose guidance could actually be of some help at a time like this, is the wedding party go-between, too busy checking back and forth from her to the men to stay in one spot for long.  As soon as she zips Robin into her dress she takes off again, leaving Robin all alone – and getting more and more anxious by the second.

Stepping into her dress turned out to be the thing that really does it.  Because she’s standing there in a white wedding dress.  It is definitely real now. 

Her mom already left her spooked and now that the time is upon her – there’s just one hour until the ceremony – Robin can feel herself starting to completely freak-out. 

Marriage is hard work; it just is.  It’s a gamble with less than great odds to begin with, and when it’s between the two of them…..they’re just going into it with so much baggage.  Considering their individual issues and that both her and Barney share similar dysfunctions, on paper it just seems like a recipe for disaster.  If you put a messed up person with someone ‘normal’, there’s a better chance that the normal one can pull them through.  But if you put two messed up individuals together, well then you might just get a mess.  That’s always been her fear anyway.  And now her mother agrees.

It’s not that she’s second-guessing her feelings for Barney or that she doesn’t want to marry him.  She’s never wanted anything more.  But she’s not blind to what rationality tells her.  He has his definite red flags, and she has her own too.  Together they’re like one giant flashing-red warning sign.  Warning:  odds say this marriage isn’t going to work.  Even Marshall and Lily joked about it after they first got engaged, with Marshall wondering how long it would be before Barney ran out on her and Lily telling him he needed to work up to the I’m-sorry-I-cheated-on-you diamond. 

It may be going well for them as a couple now but will they be able to maintain that long-term?  Can something this great ever last?  In her experience the answer to that has always been ‘no’ so she’s always expected good things to eventually come to an end, and it’s hard to reprogram that and trust that now she gets to be happy for life.

Yes, they’ve been happy all this time, wonderfully happy.  They went through hell to get here and what few problems they had left have been minor and easily worked through – as in the very same day worked through.  She loves Barney as he is and she does love their story, but she also fears that story may mean they’re starting out married life at a disadvantage.  Logic and reason tell her that if being married is tricky even for people who’ve got it all together like Marshall and Lily – and clearly it is by the doozy of a fight they just had last night – then how in the world are she and Barney going to be able do it?

A sudden knock on her door distracts her and when Robin turns she sees Katie walking in.

“So…..5 o’clock,” her sister tells her, shutting the door again behind them.  “It’s almost that time.”

“Yeah.”  Robin restlessly looks back to her reflection in the mirror, smoothing out her skirt even though it doesn’t need straightening. 

Katie comes up behind her and picks up her veil from the dressing table.  “You sound nervous.  We’re not gonna have a runaway bride situation on our hands, are we?”

“No,” Robin shakes her head.  “No, of course not.”  She busies herself with putting on her earrings and then the matching necklace she chose before the ‘something old’ idea came to her…..before she couldn’t find her locket.

“Good,” Katie replies, reaching up and pinning the veil into her sister’s hair as they stand facing the mirror, eyes meeting through the glass.  “Cause as much as I think some of the mushy-gushy stuff like your friend Lily’s scrapbook is cheesy, I can tell you really love Barney.  To tell you the truth, sis….”  She gestures squiggly fingers down her frame.  “….you’re lousy with it.  It practically leaks from your pores that you love him like crazy.  And anyone can see he loves you that way too.”

Robin watches her lips form a smile of their own accord.  Because it’s true; she does love Barney like crazy, and simply hearing someone else say how obvious it is that he loves her fills her with a warmth and happiness that just has to make its presence known.

“I think he even may have had a little thing for you all those years ago when I came to visit you in New York,” Katie reveals.  “Do you know he asked me four times before I left if he could buy your old diary, each time raising the price a ridiculous amount?  By the time I got on my flight he was offering to pay for my entire college education.”

Robin spins around to face her.  “Barney followed you to the airport?”  This is the first she’s heard of it.

“He thought he could strike a deal if he caught me alone while you weren’t there.  Something about Scherbatskys being cunning that way.”

“Yes,” Robin laughs, her smile growing, “well, Barney’s always taken a peculiar interest in my teenage years.”

“Is it the whole underage, Girls Gone Wild type thing?”

“No, I think it’s more a Robin Sparkles type thing,” she smirks.  “Take my advice, Katie.  Never develop an alter ego.  If you do, your future husband will develop a fetish for it and you’ll never hear the end of it.”

“Oh come off it, Hoser.  Don’t tell me you haven’t helped develop that fetish of his,” Katie says perceptively.  “Mom told me how over the years one-by-one you sent for all your Robin Sparkles props – and outfits….So you’ve never played dress-up for him?”  At her sister’s guilty look, Katie laughs shrewdly.  “That’s what I thought.  Not that I blame you.  My new brother-in-law is hot, and so is role playing.”

Katie.”

“What?  I know you already know that.  You might keep it on the down low now that you’re all grownup and demure and a professional WWN national anchor but,” she slyly reveals the secret she found out, “you loved his one alter ego fetish so much that you went out and developed another one, Night Falcon.”

Robin looks to her sister, flabbergasted.  “How do you know about that?”

“I was looking on Barney’s laptop when I got bored during the movie.”

Robin’s eyes widen.  “What else did you see on there?”

Katie grins.  “Enough to know that at thirty-two my sister still brings it better than most twenty year olds.”

“Damn straight,” Robin agrees.  But after the moment of initial pride she realizes what that means.  “Wait….what exactly did you watch?”

“I only found the naked pictures,” Katie answers offhandedly.  “But good to know there’s something to watch.  Homemade sex tapes.  I have a classy big sister,” she teases.

“It’s not trashy when we’re about to be married,” Robin defends.

“Hey, no judgment.  I think it’s awesome.  There may even be a homemade production or two that I’ve starred in.”

“Uh, don’t tell me anymore.”  Heaven help them when Katie meets Carly, who should be here at any minute.  They’re like peas in a pod, both of them a wild child.  The two together are likely to wreak havoc on Farhampton.

“Okay, have it your way,” Katie subscribes.  “Then I’ll tell you instead what I almost forgot:  there’s some guy out in the hallway asking to say hi before the wedding.”

“Did he say who he was?” Robin wonders, perplexed.  It must not be any of their relatives if her sister doesn’t know him.

“No.  And I didn’t ask.” 

Speculating on who it could be, Robin opens the door to find Gary Blauman standing there before her. 

That pulls her from the temporary respite from her nerves that Katie had provided right back into full-on anxiety.  Because now something’s going wrong already – and the ceremony hasn’t even started……



Two Months Ago

“Hey,” Robin greets her fiancé as she slides into the booth across from him.  But when she really gets a good look at his face she can instantly see something’s wrong.  “What happened?”

“What happened?  What happened?”  Barney sputters.  “What happened, Robin, is I was just a victim of a shocking injustice.”

She can already tell this is going to be one of his grandiose but ultimately not-even-close-to-deserving-of-the-drama tirades and the spontaneous smile on her lips is reflex.  This is just one of those characteristics that has always made Barney uniquely Barney.  “Tell me what happened,” she asks, amused.

“I – I – ”  He hangs his head, evidently too upset to go on.

Now she fondly rolls her eyes even as she pats his arm in comfort.  “Alright, just tell me the story.”

After taking a moment to collect himself, Barney continues.  “I was here at the bar, right here in this booth,” he gestures to the spot he’s still sitting in, “ready to meet you, and I ordered some fries while I was waiting.  No big deal, right?”  He waits until Robin nods to add a resounding, “Wrong!  Gary Blauman comes in and I’m thinking, ‘Cool, I’ve got an old bro to keep me company while I wait’, so I invite him to sit down.  That just happens to be when Carl brings my fries, making it even better cause I’m starving since I worked through most of lunch.”

“So what’s the problem?” Robin asks, not understanding. 

“The problem began when Carl turns right to Blauman and asks him pointblank if he needs anything too, and get this:  Blauman says, ‘I’m good, thanks’.” 

He pauses dramatically, leading her to guess, “And he wasn’t?”

“He was not even close to ‘good, thanks’,” Barney rages.  “He took four of my fries, Robin.  Four of them.”

“Okay.  Not cool,” she reflects.  “But also not a ‘shocking injustice’ – though I know how you get when you’re starving.”  When he’s really hungry he can get like she does, snappy and very territorial of his food.  Even at the best of times they’ve only been known to almost exclusively share food and drinks with each other and no one else.

“It wasn’t just that he took them – without asking, by the way.  That would have been bad enough.  But he took them after being offered his own.  He’s ‘good, thanks’ but he wants to eat all of mine?  No.  That’s not how civilized society works,” Barney expounds.  “The first one he took was presumptuous; he could see that I hadn’t even had one yet.  But I could scarcely believe it when he went in for a second, and then a third, and the whole time acting like he’d done nothing wrong, just eating away as if it were a basket of fries for the table rather than my own personal order.  And then – ”  He steels himself with a steadying breath.  “Robin, and then, the fourth fry he took….it was an accidental curly,” he acrimoniously announces.

No,” Robin responds with an appropriate mix of outrage and loss – and it’s not even put-on either; she honestly does appreciate what a tragedy and slight that would be for him.  “Oh, baby.  I know how much you love accidental curlies.  That’s why I give you mine whenever I find one.”

“It was awful, Robin.  I saw him reach in and dig it out from beneath the pile and I was overjoyed at its discovery.  I thought he was about to congratulate me on my good fortune, but then he kept bringing it up to his lips.  It was horrifying, horrifying, like watching the slow-motion death of one of your friends.”

“Well, maybe not that bad,” she point outs.

But he continues unaffected.  “I was powerless to stop it.  I watched him just shove it onto his tongue,” Barney demonstrates, “careless of the impropriety and breach of the code he’d just committed.”

“The Bro Code?”

“This goes higher than the Bro Code.  It’s a matter of human dignity.  He just – he ate my accidental curly,” he emphasizes again, because that fact alone is universal enough for anyone to recognize the umbrage.  “It was the most shocking, disturbing, deplorable thing I’d ever seen.   He robbed me of what was mine.  Stole it away right in front of my eyes, the heartless bastard.  Blauman’s not welcome at our wedding after this.”

“Barney,” Robin replies.  She’s been enjoying this up until now, but mention of their wedding prompts a need for some levelheadedness.  “We already invited him.  It was your idea.  We can’t just uninvite him now.”

“But….” Barney protests, dumbfounded.  “How can we have an unrepentant accidental curly thief at our wedding?!”

“Just relax,” she laughs.  “It doesn’t seem like we’ll have an accidental curly thief for a guest anyway.  The wedding is in two months and we still haven’t received his reply card.  It looks like he’s busy.”

Yeah, busy stealing accidental curlies,” he glowers petulantly.  “If he does come, promise me we can at least sit him somewhere crappy.  Ooh,” he perks up excitedly, “like next to my Aunt Muriel, and then he can spend the whole reception listening to her complain about her bunion.” 

“Fine,” Robin smiles.  “If we get his RSVP we’ll work out the seating chart so he’s stuck at a table next to your Aunt Muriel.  But for now just forget all about Blauman, okay?  I’m gonna go get us a round and I’ll order some new fries.”

“There’s no point,” Barney answers glumly.  “I had Carl take the old ones away as soon as Blauman left.  I didn’t have the heart to touch a fry after what he did.”

“Stop, you’re sharing an order with me.  It’ll cheer you up.  And I promise if we find an accidental curly it’s all yours.”

Up at the bar Robin reorders Barney more fries, regular cut, and surreptitiously asks Carl to purposefully mix in a few ‘accidental’ curlies.  “But really make it look like it was by chance,” she instructs.  When Carl gives her an odd look, she shrugs, explaining affectionately, “That’s the dream.”


Gary Blauman was not supposed to be here.  They have reply cards for a reason, dammit!

But with the way he’s acting it’s pretty clear he’d planned to come all along, which means his card must have gotten lost in the mail.  Yet another bad omen?

The second he walks down the hallway and Marshall conveniently walks up the stairs, Robin calls a Code Red – and there’s no question she’s freaking out now.  Blauman has no place to sit….and it took them weeks to plan the seating chart as it is….and now Marshall’s saying her hair is messed up. 

She can’t take even one more thing going wrong.  First Marshall couldn’t get to Farhampton, and then the troubles with Loretta, and their first minister dying, and Marshall and Lily’s huge fight, and then Barney disappearing and being unable to come out of his hangover after she found him – the cancelled pictures, the missing locket, her mom’s ominous comparisons, and now this too.  She’s really starting to lose control here.

But Marshall swears that he’s got this; the crisis is taken care of before it even has a chance to blowup.  She’s being irrational, that’s all.  She just needs to calm down, she tells herself, retreating back into her room.


****

With everything now settled again after the whole Gary Blauman crisis, Barney returns to his room to finish getting ready – or more like stare into the mirror and pace.  With less than forty-five minutes before the ceremony begins the anxiety of this morning is returning.

He was holding up fine before, but everyone left and now it’s just him in the room alone…..standing there in a wedding suit staring down the biggest commitment of his life and wondering again, like he had the night before when he couldn’t sleep, if he will live up to what it takes to be a good husband and not let Robin down.  He’s no longer broken; it’s not that he worries marriage can’t be for a guy like him.  But marriage is still a big deal for anyone, and now that it’s nearly zero hour Barney finds himself inundated with typical pre-wedding concerns – only amplified for a groom who for over a decade thought marriage was something he’d never, ever do.

He starts fixating on his tie as an outlet for his nerves, fixating on the fact that Robin liked the other one better, and by the time Lily stops back to check on him Barney feels himself beginning to lose it and he sends her to find Ted.

Maybe it would have been better to send for his dad.  Jerry was the one who helped him before to see that it wasn’t too late for him, he wasn’t too far gone and marriage was something he could have as long as he wanted it – and found the right girl, which he unquestionably has.  But his dad’s been busy consoling Cheryl ever since her kidnapping by Ranjit last night – that’s totally on him – and he’s already been back here a few times already so Barney went with his best man instead.

When Ted gets there Barney denies he’s having wedding jitters.  Barney Stinson doesn’t get scared; he gets awesome instead. 

But he’s falling apart because he is scared – he’s petrified – so he quickly breaks down and admits that it’s not just about a tie.  “What if this whole thing is a disaster?  What if this is the worst wedding ever?”

Look at how much has already gone wrong this weekend, and now Blauman showing up unexpectedly and storming off after they all offended him.  And then it turns out he’s the reason behind James’s divorce.  Which is another thing that’s disconcerting.  He doesn’t need James’s relationship to believe in love now that he has Robin, but it certainly didn’t hurt to have his brother’s positive example to strive toward and model after.  And on top of everything else he can’t seem to write his vows though he’s been trying for weeks.

“Not possible,” Ted counters with certainty.  “We’ve already been to the worst wedding ever.”


Barney smiles and a little laugh escapes him as he instantly knows what Ted means.  “Punchy’s wedding.”

“No wedding will ever, ever be as bad as that one, right?” Ted states.

Actually, Barney didn’t think Punchy’s wedding was that bad, and the moment he shared with Robin at the reception is one of his top memories of all time.  In fact, he finds himself relaxing and smiling happily just thinking about that night with Robin and knowing now that she was in love with him too and was saying those words to him, the same words he wanted to be saying to her if he only thought she’d reciprocate.  Sometimes he wonders what might have been that night if they’d just been honest with each other.  Well, more he wonders if they could have gotten back together a year sooner if he would have just told her then.  Otherwise he knows exactly what would have happened that night:  the very same thing that ended up happening two months later.

They really do have the kind of chemistry that just doesn’t go away.  And not just chemistry, but love too.  Hopelessly, irretrievably in love, that’s what they both are.

Yep.  There’s no doubt about it.  Marrying Robin is right.  He knows this is right, knows it without question.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
unzadi
May. 5th, 2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
:the second biggest champion of singledom is standing in a church on her wedding day – about to marry the biggest champion:

Perfect description of how well these two fit together.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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